A new contender has thrown his hat into the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors race: Pozo organic farmer Eric Michielssen confirmed Saturday that he plans to run against 5th District Supervisor Debbie Arnold for election in 2016.
Michielssen recently retired from Peoples' Self-Help Housing, where he worked for close to 17 years as a broker, asset manager and counselor. He currently serves as vice chairman of the county Agricultural Liaison Advisory Board and is president of the San Luis Obispo Grange and the SLO Natural Foods Co-op, among other organizations.
Michielssen said he decided to run for the 5th District seat — which represents Atascadero, California Valley, Creston, Garden Farms and Santa Margarita, as well as portions of Cal Poly, Pozo, San Luis Obispo and Templeton — at the urging of friends and community members.
“We really need a new supervisor who understands how government works for the people, and not just for special interests,” he said. “I’m a moderate, middle-of-the-road guy, and I’ll listen to everybody.”
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Michielssen cited Arnold’s vote in May in favor of the Las Pilitas rock quarry, in spite of the staff report and a large number of community members recommending against the project, as one of the reasons he chose to run. (The project was denied, 3-2).
“I want to make the decisions that are best for the community, and I don’t think that’s really been done here,” he said. “We need a new supervisor who listens to the people and to the staff.”
When asked for her thoughts on the new contender, Arnold said she didn’t have any official comment on Michielssen, though she welcomes new candidates entering the race.
“The election cycle is a good time to have another voice come in and have some debate,” she said Saturday. “People tend to be more aware of the issues at hand at this time, so I always welcome any additional candidates.”
Michielssen said his campaign has so far raised about $1,500. He plans to officially announce his candidacy at a rally in Atascadero sometime in the coming weeks.
A specific date has not yet been set.
Arnold raised $41,492 in the first half of 2015, including $1,855.28 in non-monetary contributions, according to her campaign filings.